Poodles as a breed date back at least 400 years. These slim, regal, and athletic dogs were once bred in only one size, the standard. Today, however, there are three main sizes of purebred Poodles: toy, miniature, and standard.
However, there is only one governing breed standard for all three Poodle sizes. And that standard lists a whopping 28 different coat colors and patterns that adult Poodles can have, regardless of size.
To further complicate matters, many Poodle puppies are born with a completely different puppy coat color than the adult coat they will grow up to have.
If you have your heart set on a Poodle with particular coat color, this can cause some amount of stress as you go puppy shopping. In this article, learn why Poodle puppies change color and what to expect as your Poodle puppy grows up.
Do Poodle Puppies Change Color?
While some purebred puppies will maintain the same basic coat color they have in puppyhood throughout life, the Poodle is definitely not one of these dogs.
Not only will most Poodle puppies have a different color puppy coat than what grows in adulthood, but many Poodle coats continue to change color throughout life.
As well, with 28 colors and patterns listed in the Poodle breed standard, there is a great deal of coat color variety to sort through.
In the rest of this article, learn the best way to predict your Poodle’s adult coat color whether your Poodle is a toy, miniature, or standard size.
Learn More About Poodles and Poodle Coat Colors
In this helpful short YouTube video, you can get an overview of the many Poodle adult coat colors as well as more fun facts about Poodle sizes, personality, feeding, training, and socialization.
Most importantly, as this video explains, Poodles are amazingly smart, versatile dogs that have a unique coat type requiring specific care. In the remainder of this article, learn how to predict your Poodle’s adult coat color and care for the coat.
What the AKC Purebred Breed Standard Permits for Poodle Dog Coat Colors
As the American Kennel Club (AKC) official purebred Poodle breed standard outlines, Poodles can have 28 different coat colors and patterns as follows:
The solid coat color group
- Silver Beige
- Cafe au lait
The black bi-color coat pattern group
- Black and brown
- Black and apricot
- Black and red
- Black and silver
- Black and gray
- Black and cream
- Black and tan
- Black and white
The white bi-color coat pattern group
- White and apricot
- White and silver
- Blue and white
- Brown and white
- Red and white
- Gray and white
- Cream and white
Other bi-color coat patterns group
- Red and apricot
- Brown and apricot
So there you have it – 28 different solid colors and bi-color coat patterns that an adult Poodle might grow up to display.
Clearly, there is a lot of variation in the purebred Poodle coat, which is why it isn’t always so easy to predict in advance what a Poodle puppy will grow up to look like.
Understanding Poodle Coat Color Genetics
Canine coat color genetics can get complicated quickly. However, they don’t start out that way.
In fact, there are only two basic pigments that code for coat color in the canine genome: eumelanin and phaeomelanin.
The more of either pigment a dog inherits from the parent dogs, the darker the coat color will be.
But there are many, many genes that can interact with those two basic color pigments to influence whether the coat is a solid single color, a bi-color pattern, a parti-color pattern, or some other variation.
Let’s meet the two basic color pigments first.
As VCA Animal Hospitals points out, eumelanin is the single most important pigment that controls canine coat color.
Eumelanin represents the black spectrum. In its pure form eumelanin is basic black.
In addition to coat color, eumelanin also controls eye color, skin color, nose color, paw pads color, and even eyelid color.
Phaeomelanin is the pigment that controls for the red color spectrum.
Unlike eumelanin, phaeomelanin controls coat color only (not for eye, skin, nose, or other color attributes).
The pure form of phaeomelanin is red. Based on how other genes interact with phaeomelanin it can span the gamut from a very light cream all the way to a deep, dark russet brown.
What Makes the White Coat Color in Poodles?
You might have noticed that the white coat color, which is prominently present in purebred Poodle coats, is not mentioned in the previous discussion of the two main coat color pigments.
As Canine Coat Colour Genetics explains, this is because white is an exception to how other Poodle coat colors are created.
White hairs actually represent an absence of any pigment in that part of the dog’s skin. When there is no pigment on the nose, eyes, paw pads, or skin, the skin color may look blue or pink or red.
Even if a Poodle has an all-white coat color, this does not mean the Poodle is albino. In fact, albinism in dogs is so rare that it has yet to be fully confirmed to exist at all.
If a Poodle does turn out to be a pure albino dog, the most likely outcome will be a pure white coat with red eyes. This will be present from puppyhood, so in this rare case, the puppy coat will not change when your Poodle grows up.
How to Predict Your Poodle Puppy’s Adult Coat Color
Stunningly Sweet Standards Poodle breeder highlights just how difficult it can be even for a knowledgable breeder to accurately predict a Poodle puppy’s adult coat color.
This is because, while a lot more is known today about canine coat color genetics, this is still a very new field of study with lots more to learn.
To make things even more challenging to predict, sometimes the adult Poodle coat can fade over time. For example, an apricot coat may fade to cream. A red coat may fade to apricot. And a cream coat may fade to near-white.
Similarly, a black puppy coat may fade to blue in adulthood. Black may also fade to gray or silver.
Knowing what the most common fading color permutations are with Poodles can help the breeder work forwards from a Poodle’s puppy coat color to predict what color the adult coat may turn out to be.
Using what is known from the Poodle parent dogs’ genetics and the genetic lineage the parent dogs come from can also help to narrow down possibilities for what a Poodle puppy’s adult coat color may turn out to be.
But since so many Poodles continue to transition across their foundational coat color throughout life, you may be in for ongoing surprises even if you work with the most knowledgable and experienced Poodle breeder.
What Is the Phantom Poodle Coat Color?
A number of common Poodle coat colors are easy to get confused. For example, silver beige, cafe au lait, and brown coat colors can be particularly hard to separate out into their respective color categories.
And then there is another color spectrum known as “phantom.”
The phantom Poodle coat color is a coat that has one base color and another color at the tips of the hairs (the part of the hair that is farthest away from the skin).
Phantom refers to a color pattern, not a specific color. This means that any base color, from white to red to brown to blue to black and beyond, can also be phantom.
The tips of the hairs can be lighter or darker than the roots of the hairs (the part of the hair that is closest to the skin).
The Best Way to Predict a Poodle Puppy’s Adult Coat Color
By far the best way to accurately predict a Poodle puppy’s adult coat color is to learn as much as you can about each parent dog and the breed lineage as a whole.
While “surprises” do happen, often courtesy of recessive genes lurking in the lineage that the breeder doesn’t realize are there, in most cases an experienced breeder can look at a puppy and greatly narrow down the range of possible adult color choices.
Finally, as Scarlet’s Fancy Poodle breeders point out, new Poodle coat colors are still being developed today. Red is the most recent addition to the Poodle coat color spectrum.
The best way to choose a Poodle puppy with the coat color you want is to work with an experienced Poodle breeder that knows color genetics and their own breed line well enough to predict coat color.